Puerto Rico

Eastern Caribbean Braces for Rain, Wind as Erika Approaches

Tropical Storm Erika remained poorly organized Wednesday, extending across the Florida peninsula with the possibility of turning into a Category 1 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The center of Erika will move near or over portions of the Leeward Islands Wednesday night, move near the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Thursday, and be near or just north of the north coast of the Dominican Republic on Friday.

Hurricane hunter aircraft find that the storm's maximum sustained winds Wednesday at 11 p.m. were remaining around 45 mph with some slow strengthening forecast over the next two days.

Erika is centered about 110 miles east of Antigua and is moving west near 16 mph.

Tropical storm warnings have been issued for Anguilla, Saba and St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, Montserrat, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, St. Martin and St. Barthelem.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for Guadeloupe, the north coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Cabo Frances Viejo, the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

South Florida remains in the forecast cone. Earlier Wednesday, the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee went into partial activation.

Meanwhile in the Pacific, Tropical Storm Ignacio has gained a little strength. The storm's maximum sustained winds have increased to near 50 mph (85 kph) and it's expected to strengthen to a hurricane by Thursday.

Ignacio is centered about 1,485 miles (2,385 kilometers) east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, and is moving west near 7 mph (11 kph).

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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